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Have you ever noticed that teenagers - especially those in junior high - develop their own colloquialisms?

It varies from one era to another and from one part of the country to another, but it always stands out.When we lived in Boston, we noticed that teenagers used "I go" and "she goes" to mean "I said" and "she said." For instance:

"I saw Debbie the other day and she goes, `Whaddaya doin'?' and I go, `Nothing much,' and she goes, `Let's head for the mall,' so we did, and we ran into Judy, and she goes, `Who would think?' and we go, `Think what?' and she goes, `Get real,' and we spent the whole time hanging out."

In Utah, it's different.

Instead of "I go" and "She goes," teenagers say "I'm all" and "she's all," as in this conversation:

"I wanted to get to know this guy, and I told Heather about it, and she's all, `Why don't you just call him up?' and I'm all, `Are you sure?' and she's all, `Totally,' but I was scared, so I'm all, `Nuh-uh, no way am I gonna do that!' and she's all, `You're crazy, he'll like it,' and I'm all, `If you think so, you do it!' "

Another very common term employed by teenagers is the word "like" but in a different way than most adults use it.

Everyone uses the common filler - "ummm" or "uhhh" - while our thoughts catch up to our words.

Instead of "ummm," teenagers just throw in "like."

The result is a much more energetic conversation in which the filler word becomes completely integrated into the whole.

Here's an example from my own junior high-age son, Spence, who was describing to me an exciting basketball game in which his friend, Carson, made a spectacular three-point basket right at the buzzer to save his team from the jaws of defeat.

"Carson had the ball at mid-court, and he looked at the clock and there were three seconds left. So he took the ball, aimed, and counted, like, 3, 2, 1 - and then he shot and like banked it in!

"I'm like, `No way.' I went to give him high fives, and he's like bouncing off the walls, he's so excited. We thought the coach should like give him a shirt for that, but he said, `No like you have to do that at least twice!' We all thought he was like robbed."

You get the idea?

Now if you're seriously interested in carrying on a meaningful conversation with your teenagers in their own vernacular, you could practice.

Just program the phrase "I'm all" or the word "like" into your stream of conversation - on average about every six or seven words.

Remember to use "like" as a filler word and "I'm all" to denote something you said.

Maybe you could try it today after your son or daughter comes home from school.

"Hi, Jack. Like, how was school today? Did you have any like great moments you want to tell me about?"

If there is either total silence or a barely audible grunt, you could relate an experience of your own to get things started.

"Say, Jack - I was picked up for speeding today on the way to work. This officer pulls me over and he's all, `Where do you think you're going, like to a fire?' and I'm all, `No way - like was I really speeding?' and he's all, `I hope to shout,' and I'm all, `Well, give me a break this time - like I didn't mean to do it,' and he's all, `I'm gonna write you a warning, buddy,' and I'm all, `You'll never be sorry.' "

Good luck - and like don't try to be too sure of yourself the first time, because it'll like make you look stupid.